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More than the score

Dodger senior Hammersland steals the show late

Fort Dodge senior Kaleb Hammersland

Years from now, very few people will remember the score of Fort Dodge’s Senior Night game against top-ranked (Class 4A) Ankeny Centennial.

Dodgers and Jaguars who were in attendance on Tuesday won’t soon forget the final minute, though, and the sudden shooting display put on by FDSH senior Kaleb Hammersland.

Hammersland, a Special Olympics standout who has been with head coach Tom Daniel’s program for the last two years, swished a three-point basket from the right corner of the court and another long jump shot for good measure as the closing seconds ticked away in the Dodgers’ 83-51 loss to Centennial.

Hammersland, a 6-foot-1 forward, checked into the contest to a rousing ovation during the waning moments of the regular-season finale for both programs. When his first attempt from behind the arc went halfway down and popped back out, the crowd groaned in disappointment.

The next time down the court, Hammersland found himself open again on the perimeter. Without hesitation, he set his feet, stepped into the shot with confidence, and the ball hit nothing but net.

Fans from both sides erupted in celebration, with players from both teams holding up “three” signals in a moment of sportsmanship and solidarity.

“That was really cool,” Daniel said. “It was a great moment for Kaleb and for the team. It’s been a tough season and this was a really difficult challenge for us, but the last minute helped put things in perspective as a reminder of what our sport and our school stand for. And we appreciated the support from the Centennial kids as well.”

Hammersland was one of seven seniors honored before the contest, joining Dodger teammates Tysen Kershaw, Asle Thorson, Brycen Bell, Jaheim Clayton, Nolan Daniel and Jordan Mills. Kershaw scored a team-high 14 points for Fort Dodge, with Clayton adding 12.

The outcome was never in doubt, as the Jaguars (20-1 overall) stretched their win streak to 14. Centennial’s last — and only — loss came in early January at West Des Moines Dowling.

“They’ve got it all,” Daniel conceded. “They’re crisp with their ball movement and their cuts, they have shooters, and they (possess) size underneath that we just couldn’t match. Our guys played hard, but it just got away from us in a hurry.”

The Jaguars racked up 27 first-quarter points in building a 17-point edge. It was 49-24 by halftime, as Centennial shot 62 percent from the floor and made all 10 of its free-throw attempts.

Six-foot-8 senior Cody McCullough paced the Jags with 20 points. Junior guard Jaron Crews, a transfer from cross-town Ankeny High, added 15, while 6-7 senior Michah Johnson contributed 12.

Centennial also got 28 points from its bench. The visitors finished 31 of 53 from the field (58 percent) for the contest, and a perfect 16-for-16 at the charity stripe.

Fort Dodge (2-19) now wipes the slate clean for Monday’s Class 4A substate quarterfinal at Sioux City West (10-10).

“We get to reset,” Daniel said. “It’s all about competing for each other and making the most of this opportunity now. We have to come with a strong effort, but it also has to be focused and controlled.

“I’m hoping our guys respond and are looking forward to wiping the slate clean with substate. Because you never know once you get into the postseason.”

ANKENY CENTENNIAL 83,

FORT DODGE 51

Centennial — Cody McCullough 7-8 6-6 20, Jaron Crews 5-7 3-3 15, Micah Johnson 6-10 0-0 12, Preston Kelling 1-3 3-3 5, Colin McAleer 1-1 0-0 3, Brady Petersen 4-7 0-0 8, Karter Kester 3-4 2-2 8, Cade Macke 2-4 0-0 6, Caleb Van Meter 1-2 2-2 4, Justin Hollinrake 1-2 0-0 2, D’Eric Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Brock Jensen 0-2 0-0 0, Eugene Bukenya 0-1 0-0 0, Carson Wycoff 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 31-53 16-16 83.

Fort Dodge — Tysen Kershaw 5-13 4-6 14, Jaheim Clayton 5-9 0-2 12, Brycen Bell 1-2 0-0 3, Asle Thorson 1-4 0-2 2, Nolan Daniel 0-4 0-0 0, Carson Peterson 3-5 0-0 8, Kaleb Hammersland 2-3 0-0 5, Dayson Clayton 1-5 0-0 3, Monterius Altman-Abrams 1-3 0-0 2, Javion Jondle 1-3 0-0 2, Drake Callon 0-0 0-0 0, James Daniel 0-0 0-0 0, D’Arien Calahan 0-0 0-0 0, Ashton Hage 0-0 0-0 0, Bradley Vodraska 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Mills 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-51 4-10 51.

Quarter scores: Centennial led 27-10, 49-24, 67-37. Three-point goals: Centennial 5-11 (Crews 2-4, Macke 2-2, McAleer 1-1, Kelling 0-1, Petersen 0-1, Jensen 0-2); Fort Dodge 7-17 (J. Clayton 2-4, Peterson 2-3, Hammersland 1-2, Bell 1-1, D. Clayton 1-2, Thorson 0-1, Kershaw 0-1, Altman-Abrams 0-1, N. Daniel 0-2). Turnovers: Centennial 11, Fort Dodge 15. Total fouls: Centennial 15, Fort Dodge 15.

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